Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

SOCIAL   AND    POLITICAL    LIFE          lfj
not alter a word of it if he were speaking to us to-day.
According to Hanfeitse, the beginning of political wisdom lies in rejecting all moral platitudes and in shunning all efforts at moral reforms. I believe the sooner we stop talking about moral reforms of the people, the sooner shall we be able to give China a clean government. The fact that so many people persist in talking of moral reforms as a solution for political evils is a sign of the puerility of their thinking and their inability to grasp the political problems as political problems. They should see that we have been talking moral platitudes continuously for the last two thousand years without improving the country morally or giving it a cleaner and better government. They should see that, if moralizations would do any good, China should be a paradise of saints and angels to-day. I suspect that the reason why moral reform talks are so popular^ especially with our officials, is because they know that such talks do nobody any harm. Probably all our moral uplifters have a bad conscience* I find that General Chang Tsungch'ang and others who want to restore Confucianism and uplift others9 morals generally keep from five to fifteen wives         were
adepts at seducing young girls. We say, "Benevolence is a good thing/3 and they echo, "True, benevolence is a good thing/5 and no harm is done anybody. On the other hand51 do not hear any of our officials talking about government by law, because the people would reply, "CA11 rights we will prosecute you by law and send you to prison.93 The earlier^ therefore, we stop talking about morality and switch over to the subject of the strict enforcement of law, the sooner we make it impossible for these officials to dodge the issue and pretend to read the Confucian classics in the foreign settlements.
Briefly, we may say, therefore, that there were two opposing conceptions of government in Hanfeitse's times3 as well as in our own times: the Confucian conception of government by gentlemen and the legalist conception of government by kw rather than by persons. The Confucian system assumes every ruler to be a gentleman and proceeds to treat him like a gentleman. The legalist system assumes every ruler to be a crook and proceeds to make provisions in the political system to prevent Mm from carrying out his crooked intentions. Obviously the